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Taking PCR to the Max

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The Eco 48 qPCR system was recently launched by PCRmax, a Bibby Scientific company, offering researchers an affordable, yet high performance instrument.

To find out about some of the Eco 48’s impressive features, and learn about the benefits it can provide to laboratories, we spoke to Dr Andrew Birnie, Business Development Specialist at PCRmax.

AM: PCRmax recently launched the Eco 48 qPCR system. Can you describe some of the features of the instrument?

AB: The Eco 48 is a high specification, economically priced real time thermal cycler that delivers premium quality alongside unprecedented speed. When optimised, the instrument is capable of running 40 cycles in 15 minutes while still using standard chemistries and plastics. Even in a typical run, the instrument can complete 40 cycles in 40 minutes – quite a jump compared to 2 hours from some other systems!

In addition to this exceptional efficiency, the Eco 48 has the most uniform block of any thermal cycler. Furthermore, it implements ALC (adaptive LED control), which has as an effect to maximize the dynamic range, ensure there is never any bleaching through of light to neighbouring wells or have saturated the detector, all limitations and effects that can plague other systems. These high levels of confidence, sensitivity and uniformity make the Eco system a real favourite amongst top qPCR experts.

AM: You said the Eco 48 provides a high level of thermal uniformity. How is this achieved, and what benefits does this provide?

AB: The Eco has unsurpassed block uniformity of ±0.1˚C (recorded at 95 ˚C), thanks to our patented block technology. To put it simply the block is hollow and filled with a thermally conductive fluid, meaning that all the wells are heated equally and uniformity is attained across the whole block instantly after every temperature change.

This means the same result is achieved in every well during every run, giving incredibly consistent answers in any system and upmost levels of trust and confidence to researchers.

AM: How does the sensitivity of the Eco 48 compare to similar instruments?

AB: The Eco 48 is extremely sensitive, thanks to the ALC and its exceptional uniformity. The combination of these innovative and patented technologies mean that the instrument can identify Class IV over 99.9% of the time, and can work with only one copy of the gene in the reaction. High Resolution Melt, which facilitates the identification of SNPs based on their melt profile, can also be identified in under 10 minutes for the whole plate with over 99% accuracy.

Most importantly, researchers can be sure never to miss a data point. The Eco records every well, with every filter, in every cycle, so none of this exceptional sensitivity goes to waste!

AM: Why do you think having complete confidence is so important to users undertaking qPCR procedures?

AB: There are a lot of requirements and expectations within qPCR today. Bad experiences, such as the supposed links between the MMR vaccine and developmental disorders, have highlighted the need for qualified, accurate qPCR procedures. Since the introduction of the MIQE guidelines, researchers know exactly what must be reported for a qPCR experiment in order to ensure its relevance, accuracy, correct interpretation and repeatability.

Having an instrument that is MIQE compliant and capable of hitting all the marks set out in the guidelines makes a huge difference. Knowing that your results are meeting the requirements means researchers and scientists can focus on their own work and conclusions, without having to worry that their results will be inaccurate or questioned.

AM: As well as impressive performance, the Eco 48 also provides value for money. What features make the instrument an economical choice?

AB: We understand that laboratories work in different ways, and so we’ve tried to make sure that the Eco 48 is as easy to adopt as possible. It is available as a complete solution, including the instrument, plates, seals and reagents, but also as a chemically open platform so that researchers can use any supplier’s reagents. Everything is supplied as standard, so there are no unexpected add-ons.

The Eco 48 also provides a lower price per run. If you consider how much your samples cost to get to the PCR stage, you don’t want to be wasting money running unnecessary replicates and huge sample volumes. By using less, laboratories can save money and still be sure of getting the results they need. Inaccurate, low uniformity qPCR systems can ruin, for example, next-generation sequencing runs which can cost significant amounts of money, and that’s one thing the Eco 48 can help laboratories avoid.

For more information, please visit http://www.pcrmax.com/

Dr. Andrew Birnie was speaking to Anna-Marie MacDonald, Editor for Technology Networks